Ant Encounters

Ants are interesting creatures in which they are capable of carrying 10 to 50 times their weight despite their small size. Not only that, but they can work together to act as a “single organism” rather than individually. In Ant Encounters, Deborah Gordon presented interesting information about these tiny little creatures. Ants have queens, in the same way that bees do, but without the supreme power. These queens, with the initial male sperm, will lay eggs for the rest of their lives anywhere from 10 to 25 years (upon death). These eggs will end up hatching an expected low ratio of girl to boy ants, seeing as an ant colony is predominantly male (with the male being worker ants). This is interesting because it limits reproduction to only the queen (going against Darwin’s definition of the what dictates an organism’s fitness). In this case, it is deem more fit for more workers to scour for food the colony than it to reproduce. Another fascinating facet of ants would be their sense of smell. Ants are able to smell how potent the smell of the nest is on each other, indicated how long they have been away from the nest. This allows for them to communicate in the sense of ratio to see how many ants to send out and in at a time. This ratio can be comparable to the same algorithm used for the internet to regulate user flow!

The presentation was interesting! Ms. Gordon was very passionate about her colonies of ants that it was hard to not be passionate as well. Although I still am not that big of a fan, I can now see from her point of view how cool they are. I also find it interesting that the colony acts as a “single organism.” Instead of surviving on their own and working together, they work together to survive as a whole. It is as if every ant was a cell, carrying out its function so the whole colony can prosper. I also found it fascinating that the algorithm in which ants move in and out of the nest is the same exact ones the mathematicians/computer scientists have created for internet regulation. And like what Gordon said, “Ants have been doing this for years and years and years. We discovered this mechanism after them.” This is amazing, and ants do not even know what they’re doing it! All in all, ants are pretty cool (even though they still are super creepy in my eyes).

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